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Kim Weeks (No, Not That One) Is Flagler’s Teacher of the Year, DeAndre Harris Takes Employee Honor

| January 13, 2016

Kim Weeks is a media specialist at Old Kings Elementary School for 11 years, DeAndre Harris is a paraprofessional at Indian Trails Middle School. (© FlaglerLive)

Kim Weeks is a media specialist at Old Kings Elementary School for 11 years, DeAndre Harris is a paraprofessional at Indian Trails Middle School. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler school district honored two of its “superheroes” Tuesday night — its Teacher and Support Employees of the Year — during a ceremony that resembled a cross between the Golden Globe Awards and the Super Bowl halftime show.

Kim Weeks, a media specialist at Old Kings Elementary School for 11 years (no relation to the other Kim Weeks), was named Teacher of the Year.

DeAndre Harris, a paraprofessional at Indian Trails Middle School where he works with Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classes, is this year’s Support Employee of the Year. Known as “Mr. D.,” he has worked with Flagler Schools for just a year.

The theme of the event at Flagler Auditorium was “Celebrating Flagler’s Superheroes of Education.” With moving spotlights and blaring rock music filling the hall, audiences members — students and adults — cheered loudly and waved handmade posters and banners supporting the 10 teacher nominees and 17 support employees and their respective schools.

Flagler School Superintendent Jacob Oliva kicked off the evening by descending from a bungee-type apparatus and prancing across the stage in a red cape and blue “Super Teacher” T-shirt.

“In the last couple of weeks I got to meet a lot of the nominees who have been chosen by their peers and recognized by their leaders as folks who exemplify superheroes,” Oliva said in his opening remarks. “These are folks who come in before school, stay after school and work with children every single day to make sure they are successful in life.

“When we think about the vision of Flagler schools, and the fact that we have set that standard of becoming the nation’s premier learning organization, it’s the folks we’re going to recognize this evening who exemplify that standard.”

Oliva said Weeks “has truly transformed how students use the media center in her role as a media specialist.”

“I treat students as more than just students — they become my family and I look out for them,” Weeks said in an interview following the ceremony. “And I do a lot of things with the community and I like to create partnerships with our school. I give 110 percent.”

A Flagler Schools press release noted “it’s not unusual” to find Weeks “teaching a technology class for students, showing them the importance of digital citizenship while keeping an eye on their digital footprint and warning of cyber-bullying.” The release also noted her originality, as when she brought in an actual bulldozer to kick off a construction-themed summer reading program.

Harris said that “honestly I just think being myself” earned him the Support Employee of the Year honor. “I give them what they see on a regular basis: energy, fun, laughter,” he said.

jacob oliva superhero

Superintendent Jacob Oliva, dressed for the evening’s superhero theme. (© FlaglerLive)

Harris tells the ESE students that “Hey, we all make mistakes in life sometimes but guess what, you’re going to get another opportunity to better yourself.”

All nominees were introduced to the audience and given a plaque onstage for being chosen by their respective schools. Two videos were shown on a giant screen onstage. One depicted each teacher nominee going about his or her daily duties in the classroom or school. But the video of support employees was given a comic twist.

“Instead of being an undercover boss, I became an ‘over-cover’ boss,” Oliva said in introducing the video. The video then depicted Oliva visiting each support employee and ineptly attempting to help them with their respective duties, such as transferring a telephone call, manning a front office desk, preparing lunch, washing pans in a lunchroom cleaning area and piloting a carpet-cleaning “zamboni.”

Weeks and Harris will now compete at the state level for Teacher and Support Employee of the Year. In 2014, Belle Terre Elementary’s Jill Espinosa, the Flagler County Teacher of the Year, made the shortlist of five nominees for Florida Teacher of the Year before Polk County’s Christie Bassett took the honor.

Also taking honors Tuesday evening were Wadsworth Elementary’s John Fanelli, who was named Principal of the Year after shepherding the old Phoenix Academy’s merger with Wadsworth’s STEM Academy and leading the school through a difficult time after the death of a Wadsworth Elementary student in October in a collision with a car. Marcus Sanfilippo of Indian Trails Middle School was named Assistant Principal of the Year. Last year, Flagler’s nominee, Dusty Sims, became the state assistant principal of the year. He is now principal at Flagler Palm Coast High School.

The other Teacher of the Year nominees this year included: Melissa Irving, Belle Terre Elementary; Randi Fasnacht, Bunnell Elementary; Amber Baumert, Rymfire Elementary; Jaime Byrne, Wadsworth Elementary; Katherine Acosta, Buddy Taylor Middle; Lori Decker, Indian Trails Middle; Courtney VandeBunte, Flagler Palm Coast High; Michelle Czarnecki, Matanzas High; and David Nelson, Flagler Technical Institute.

The other Support Employees of the Year included: George Obloj, Belle Terre Elementary; Cynthia DeLance, Bunnell Elementary; Susan Hamilton, Old Kings Elementary; Trish Burns, Rymfire Elementary; Corrie Archambault, Wadsworth Elementary; Valena Ridgway, Buddy Taylor Middle; Carol Carnelli, Flagler Palm Coast High; Pam Brown, Matanzas High; Brandon Seminara, FPC Youth Center; Thomas Adams, Technology Department; Leonard Wood, Transportation Department; Licinia Paiva, Custodial Services; Lisa Gross, Government Services Building/HR; Graciela Butarelli, Food Services Department; Bob Trevethan, Plant Services Department; and Gloria Barreiro, Flagler technical Institute.

They will all have to wait to celebrate with students: Wednesday is a teacher planning day, so there’s no school for students.

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